Creative Destruction

May 29, 2007

Going Home

Filed under: Politics — Off Colfax @ 2:30 am

Cindy Sheehan is leaving the Democratic Party.

You have completely failed those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We did not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to guide it to safe harbor.

Honestly, I feel nothing but an obscenely guilty pleasure at this pronouncement. Dear Mother Sheehan has been pushing this party even further away from the center than ever before, and even faster than Rush Limbaugh ever dragged the Republicans to the political right. (Yes, dear reader. There is an insult in there somewhere. Exactly who it is directed towards, however, is up for debate.) Her constant beating of the drum has, over time, become the same sound as the drumbeat emanating from the White House, only on an opposing wavelength. The only people that have ever truly taken her seriously were the ones that were already true believers and fellow travelers, while the rest of us in the Democratic Party sat there and rolled our collective eyes whenever Dear Mother opened her mouth.

And yet, I must thank her. Not for Camp Casey. Not for being against the enormity on the Euphrates. Not even for telling Speaker Pelosi to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. Instead, I must thank her for helping me to see what is happening with my party and how it is beginning to betray its bedrock principles.

And I just know that you are sitting there, scratching your heads, asking yourselves, “Dude, how the heck did you reach this? Which logical limb did you take a flying leap off of this time?”

Let me show you why it really is a guilty pleasure, beyond the definition of obscenity.

With this send-off letter, Cindy only shows that she does as much to continue the Republican viewpoint on Iraq as the White House Press Office, to wit, she kept on calling it a war. As I have been saying for almost 18 months now, this is not a war. She and the rest of the anti-armed-conflict Democrats keep helping the current Administration’s constant drumbeat by calling it such.

And, by doing so, this party continues to play the wrong cards. It is a constant talking point out of the Congressional Majority Leaders’ offices that the voters sent the Republicans a message that they were tired of the “War In Iraq” whenever they butt heads with the White House. That they wanted a change. That they weren’t satisfied with “hold the course” anymore. So why do they continue to use the White House talking point, the same one that Alberto Gonzales could not let stand while under oath in front of the Senate in 2006?

There was not a war declaration, either in connection with Al Qaida or in Iraq. It was an authorization to use military force.

I only want to clarify that, because there are implications. Obviously, when you talk about a war declaration, you’re possibly talking about affecting treaties, diplomatic relations. And so there is a distinction in law and in practice. And we’re not talking about a war declaration. This is an authorization only to use military force.

If my fellow Democrats are serious about ending the debacle on the Tigris, we need to stop helping the Administration sell the policies we claim to despise. We are not at war with Iraq. We have never been at war with Iraq. We have someone calling himself a “War President” without any silly technicalities such as an actual war. And we on the left side of the double-yellow-line keep helping him say that whenever we stand up against the “war” in Iraq.

And the reason my party has done this is simple. The Democratic Party, especially their most vocal supporters on the progressive left, does not want to break with politics as usual. Why? Because politics as usual is precisely what they are counting on to support their policies and personal agendas, especially now that the Democrats have taken control of both chambers of Congress. After all, you cannot use the boat if you rock it too much. It is in the Democrats vested interest to keep the vested interests in play. And they have done so.

Those who I call the “Honest Republicans”, such as bloggers John Cole and Robert Lee Ray as well as many prominent moderate Republican families, have either broken or are threatening to break from what the current ultra-hardcore neo-conservative movement that the modern Republican Party has become. Why? Because the GOP has broken away from their traditional position of a small and responsible government. Because the single-issue supporters within the GOP have all but subsumed the platform. Because the GOP believes more in the Conservative Cause than it does in the American Constitution.

And I regret that I am starting to see the same thought process within the Democratic Party. We were once the party for the people, not the special interests. We were once the party of hard questions, not easy escapes. We were once the party of grand visions, not short-sighted maneuvers. We were once the party of fixing what was broken, not throwing temporary patches over the holes.

The current Democratic Party is no longer the party of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, any more than the current Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. And both parties have traveled far afield from the principles of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, John Hancock… No longer are the principles of the Founding Fathers to be found.

And that frightens me. To be perfectly honest, it scares the [CENSORED] out of me. And I have to ask myself one question: Am I reading the writing on the wall, or am I the one writing on the wall?

Am I really the only one on this side of the political divide that is seeing this pattern? Am I the only one that points towards our bedrock principles, both as Democrats and Americans, and screams to the winds “Why are we so far away?” Am I the lone voice crying in the wilderness?

Because if I have to, I will. This is not solely the party of Duncan Black and Amanda Marcotte and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, or of Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Barack Obama.

This is my party too. And if I have to fight for my place in the Democratic Party, then perhaps it is true. The Democratic Party will no longer be the Democratic Party when it betrays its most basic foundation principle: a place where all voices have the right to be heard.

I will be heard.

I will not suffer in silence.

I will dissent.

Until the end of the world.

Truly, the reason why I feel guilty about this is because Cindy Sheehan no longer is willing to fight for the same thing. And the reason why I am afraid is that the party just does not care any more. That it no longer exists to represent our views, our politics, our opinions… But instead, it exists only for itself. And the day that this becomes true, than this will no longer be my party. And when that day comes, will I have the intestinal fortitude to leave it to die? Or will I pull the plug myself?

If that is not of the Platonic Form of obscene thought, I do not want know what is.

Carpe jugulum.

[Crossposted from Left Off Colfax]

12 Comments »

  1. I admire your passion, but I’m not following your arguments. You mention Hillary Clinton as an example; are you saying that her views are too far left for what the Democrats should be?

    More broadly, what are the specific policy issues — other than referring to the quagmire in Iraq as a “war” — in which you perceive the Democratic party as having moved too far to the left?

    And I regret that I am starting to see the same thought process within the Democratic Party. We were once the party for the people, not the special interests. We were once the party of hard questions, not easy escapes. We were once the party of grand visions, not short-sighted maneuvers. We were once the party of fixing what was broken, not throwing temporary patches over the holes.

    When you refer to a past time when the Democratic party was better than it is now in these various ways, what time period do you mean, specifically?

    With all due respect, I think your argument is too lacking in specific examples for me to understand exactly what it is you’re objecting to.

    Comment by Ampersand — May 29, 2007 @ 3:49 pm | Reply

  2. By the way, Sheehan left the Democratic party quite a while ago. The announcement today refers to her decision to quit being an activist for the forseeable future.

    Comment by Ampersand — May 29, 2007 @ 3:57 pm | Reply

  3. I admire your passion, but I’m not following your arguments. You mention Hillary Clinton as an example; are you saying that her views are too far left for what the Democrats should be?

    No, I’m saying she’s left of the mainstream bread-and-butter of the Democratic Party. The only non-Iraq-related issue where she could possibly be confused for a centrist would be her business-friendly outlook, compliments of the DLC. (And her Iraq positioning is truly all over the chart. Sometimes liberal, sometimes conservative. I tried to chart it once, but it looked like an EKG.)

    More broadly, what are the specific policy issues — other than referring to the quagmire in Iraq as a “war” — in which you perceive the Democratic party as having moved too far to the left?

    Five of the issues of greatest concern for the 2008 election: health care, immigration, education, national defense, and Social Security.

    When you refer to a past time when the Democratic party was better than it is now in these various ways, what time period do you mean, specifically?

    I mentioned JFK and FDR up there for a reason, not simple artistic license, as those were part and parcel of the party’s best years. Running it through specifically, 1934-44 and 1956-66 were the bright shining stars of the party’s past. Certainly there were mistakes made by individual Democrats (Bay of Pigs being a pretty major example of that.) yet they do not detract from the overall impact except to someone looking to burn the party at both ends.

    (Much like, just because he got caught with his pants down and tried to weasel out of it, Bill Clinton is no longer considered to be a fairly good president by certain segments of society. And Ronald Reagan is treated in the same manner, just because his administration got caught in the Iran-Contra scandal. This is me giving both sides equal time.)

    With all due respect, I think your argument is too lacking in specific examples for me to understand exactly what it is you’re objecting to.

    What I am objecting to is simple, Amp. The Democratic Party is being led away by the supporters of “progressive activism” just as the Republican Party was led astray by the religious right. And with the constant self-destruction of the GOP being self-evident to an outside observer, seeing the same behaviors within the Democratic Party sends up a warning flag the size of Wisconsin.

    There. My specific issues, all laid on the black-and-white.

    Comment by Off Colfax — May 30, 2007 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  4. No, I’m saying she’s left of the mainstream bread-and-butter of the Democratic Party.

    I think you’re mistaken about that. Polls have consistently shown most Democrats are anti-Iraq-war; that puts most Democrats to Hillary’s left. Where Hillary has taken a more critical view, such as her calling for the closing of Guantamano, she’s in agreement with most Democrats.

    Looking through her stances on various issues, I just don’t see any general pattern of Hillary being left of typical democrats.

    What I am objecting to is simple, Amp. The Democratic Party is being led away by the supporters of “progressive activism” just as the Republican Party was led astray by the religious right. And with the constant self-destruction of the GOP being self-evident to an outside observer, seeing the same behaviors within the Democratic Party sends up a warning flag the size of Wisconsin.

    Of course, the GOP, starting with the takeover of the party by the far right during the Carter administration, had decades of making enormous, enormous gains in government, which you’re overlooking. And their failure seems to me to due them simply being wrong on too many policy issues, especially regarding Iraq.

    So the lesson to be learned is not “the outer wing of the party is always bad,” but that pursuing stupid policies — such as chasing after phantom WMDs, or invading a country that you are in no way prepared or competent to hold — is bad. Since I’m not convinced that progressive policy positions are wrong, I’m not persuaded by your comparison that progressives are harming the Democrats.

    If anything, I’m convinced more than ever that “centrist Democrats” — the useless, whining, cowardly Democrats who have been kneeling down before George W. Bush because fighting him is just toooo scary — are the people who have done the most to bring the Democrats down. They’ve enabled Bush, either because they agree with him or because they have no spines, and in neither case do they deserve to remain in power. You can’t win a political fight by being too cowardly to stand up for your beliefs, or by agreeing with the opposition, but that’s what centrist democrats have done for most of the past seven years.

    [Edited to clarify wording.]

    Comment by Ampersand — June 5, 2007 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

  5. I’m in agreement with Amp, broadly. If the Democrats had embraced the progressive side of the party, they probably wouldn’t have won the election in 2006 (the numbers just aren’t there in the population as a whole), but they would have strengthened their chances in future elections by presenting as people who had a viewpoint, believed in that viewpoint, and stood by the viewpoint regardless of the electoral calculus.
    That’s how the Republicans did it, starting with Goldwater, who lost the election but stood forthrightly for a certain set of positions which were not overwhelmingly popular. You can argue cogently that Reagan won in 1980 because Goldwater took a stand in 1968; that stand attracted people to the movement and the small-government conservatives began to gather focus and energy. Our wishy-washy centrists and muddled go-along-to-get-along types have since spent that political capital, but there’s nothing from stopping us (or any other similarly situated political group) from doing it again.
    (I only agree with Amp when I can use my agreement to draw him into parallel with Goldwater conservatism.)

    Comment by Robert — June 5, 2007 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  6. Well. Seems I have both Bob and Amp in agreement here. While the studio audience continues to bask in the glow of such a glorious and special occasion, I will refrain from arguing.

    OK, I think they’re done now. Open mic.

    Polls have consistently shown most Democrats are anti-Iraq-war; that puts most Democrats to Hillary’s left. Where Hillary has taken a more critical view, such as her calling for the closing of Guantamano, she’s in agreement with most Democrats.

    Dude. I’ve mentioned before that you seem to have a bit of difficulty with skipping sentences in my posts and failing to realize that the point you were making in response to me was one that . This is another example. Let me block the whole section this time. Italics the part you used, bold the part you didn’t seem to catch the first time.

    No, I’m saying she’s left of the mainstream bread-and-butter of the Democratic Party. The only non-Iraq-related issue where she could possibly be confused for a centrist would be her business-friendly outlook, compliments of the DLC. (And her Iraq positioning is truly all over the chart. Sometimes liberal, sometimes conservative. I tried to chart it once, but it looked like an EKG.)

    [sarcastic use of the Verizon Wireless guy]
    Can you see it now? Good.
    [/sarcastic use of the Verizon Wireless guy]

    Looking through her stances on various issues, I just don’t see any general pattern of Hillary being left of typical democrats.

    Funny. I look at that list and I fail to see very little to the right of progressive Democrats beyond the exceptions already noted.

    And their [the GOP’s] failure seems to me to due them simply being wrong on too many policy issues, especially regarding Iraq.

    I fail to understand the constant hammering of the Iraq issue as being the pivotal point where the GOP lost the election last year, particularly when certain segments of the Republican party continue to deride the President’s policies in many other areas. The general breakdown of support from the centrist and libertarian factions of the GOP was as much of a factor in the November Democratic victories as the Administration’s handling of the whole of the Iraq issue.

    So the lesson to be learned is not “the outer wing of the party is always bad,” but that pursuing stupid policies — such as chasing after phantom WMDs, or invading a country that you are in no way prepared or competent to hold — is bad.

    Pursuing stupid policies is always bad.

    Since I’m not convinced that progressive policy positions are wrong, I’m not persuaded by your comparison that progressives are harming the Democrats.

    Of course you fail to be convinced that those policies are wrong. They are the self-same policies that you support whole-heartedly. Few people (Certain members of the present administration withstanding.) will stand up and say “Hey! I have a great idea! And everyone will hate us for it! So let’s do it!” We all believe that our policy positions are for the best, and this is especially true for those positions that are more shortsighted than Steve Urkel and implemented in order to bring about maximum short-term political gains regardless of the long-term expenditures.

    If anything, I’m convinced more than ever that “centrist Democrats” — the useless, whining, cowardly Democrats who have been kneeling down before George W. Bush because fighting him is just toooo scary — are the people who have done the most to bring the Democrats down.

    Correction: Centrist Democrats in Washington, D.C. have done that, including my own Senator, Ken Salazar. The rest of us centrist Democrats, those in the general population, have been seeing the party run pell-mell away from us, just as the Goldwater and Reagan Republicans have seen, and continue to see, the GOP run away from them since 1994, which was the last hurrah of that particular brand of conservativism. (Sorry, Bob, but it’s true.)

    And now an additional issue for you to consider, Amp: Why is it that you considered this post to be solely, or even mostly, a criticism of the Clinton44 campaign and positioning? I mentioned 6 names up there, not just one. And HRC was not the only female up there, so it isn’t just your natural stance of feminism, albeit from the male viewpoint. I criticized Obama and Edwards with the same breath as HRC, not to mention Duncan and Amanda and Kos. So the constant hammering on “But that’s not how Hillary sees things!” is what I need to bring up, for that was not the basis for the post. Instead it was regarding how progressives see things.

    Significant difference between what I said and what you are arguing against. See again first substantive paragraph of this comment.

    Comment by Off Colfax — June 6, 2007 @ 12:52 am | Reply

  7. Ergh. That should have read “in response to me that I have already made.”

    And the comment editor hates me. So I’m writing it as an addendum.

    Comment by Off Colfax — June 6, 2007 @ 12:56 am | Reply

  8. O.C., I didn’t quote every line of your comment, but I did read every line.

    You wrote:

    And her Iraq positioning is truly all over the chart. Sometimes liberal, sometimes conservative. I tried to chart it once, but it looked like an EKG.)

    I did read this sentence, and had it in mind when I responded to you. My point is that the majority of the Democratic base is consistently anti-war on Iraq. So if Hillary is indeed “all over the chart,” then her overall Iraq position is to the right of the Democratic base.

    If you still don’t understand, think of two sets of numbers. Set A is 1, 2, 1, 1, and 2. Set B is 1, 307, 2, 48, 1, and 170,966. Set B’s numbers are significantly higher, as a group, than set A’s. It’s illogical to attempt to deny this by saying “Set B’s numbers aren’t higher — they’re all over the map!” Yes, they are all over the map — which makes them higher, overall.

    [sarcastic use of the Verizon Wireless guy]
    Can you see it now? Good.
    [/sarcastic use of the Verizon Wireless guy]

    Funny. I look at that list and I fail to see very little to the right of progressive Democrats beyond the exceptions already noted.

    First of all, that she’s been hawkish on Iraq is hardly a minor exception. Many voters see Iraq policy as the single most important issue going on right now.

    As for other issues: Hillary is anti-gay-marriage, she voted for the Patriot Act (one of only two Dems who did), she’s a suck-up to Israel, she’s almost never seen a weapons system that she didn’t vote to fund, she’s pro-faith-based funding of social services, she’s voted for very stringent (I’d say unrealistic and mean) welfare requirements, she’s in favor of oil drilling in the gulf of Mexico (something every environmental group I know of opposes), and she’s pro-death-penalty. All of these are issues in which she’s well to the right of progressive Dems, and in many of them she’s to the right of not just the progressive wing but most of the party. Plus, she’s generally in favor of her husband’s famous “triangulation” strategy, which by definition means moving to the right on many issues.

    There are other areas in which she’s more liberal than the above issues — she’s a Democrat, not a Republican, after all! I’m not saying she’s walking in lockstep with George Bush. But I don’t think it’s possible to deny that Hillary’s on the right side of the Dem party spectrum. It’s not just one or two issues.

    And now an additional issue for you to consider, Amp: Why is it that you considered this post to be solely, or even mostly, a criticism of the Clinton44 campaign and positioning?

    (Clinton44? What does the 44 stand for?)

    I didn’t think Clinton was the subject of your whole post. It’s just the bit of your post that most threw me. I can understand thinking that Edwards or Amanda are pulling the Dems to the left, although neither they nor the other folks you mention are particularly radical left. But saying that about Hillary Clinton, given her substantial centrist credentials, is utterly bizarre. If you don’t think that Hillary is right-wing enough, then what Democrat is — Zell Miller, maybe?

    I don’t understand what you think the Democrats should look like. If you think they should be significantly to the right of Clinton, then — with all due respect — I don’t understand how your vision of the Democratic party differs from moderate Republicanism.

    Comment by Ampersand — June 6, 2007 @ 2:25 am | Reply

  9. (Clinton44? What does the 44 stand for?)

    Oh, never mind, I just got it. :#)

    Comment by Ampersand — June 6, 2007 @ 4:06 am | Reply

  10. I haven’t. Care to explain to Dumbo here?

    Comment by Daran — June 6, 2007 @ 7:12 am | Reply

  11. Hint:

    How many Presidents of the United States have there been?

    Followup hint:

    What number President would Hillary be?

    Comment by Robert — June 6, 2007 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  12. If you still don’t understand, think of two sets of numbers. Set A is 1, 2, 1, 1, and 2. Set B is 1, 307, 2, 48, 1, and 170,966. Set B’s numbers are significantly higher, as a group, than set A’s. It’s illogical to attempt to deny this by saying “Set B’s numbers aren’t higher — they’re all over the map!” Yes, they are all over the map — which makes them higher, overall.

    Hmmm… That would assume the base position of the party to be 1. Yet, if you chart it as a flat graph, the chart would assign the base (average) position of the party at 0 and allow for negative figures, with X > 0 being more liberal than the average and 0 > X being more conservative than the average. So while I might accept how you assigned numbers to HRC’s positioning as being Set B, I would argue that Set A’s numbers would fall more like -43, -235, -1, 0, and -1,446 for the same unnamed issues. Which puts both chartlines equally “far” from the base, as both categories have gone far afield from the “average” position of the party.

    I would re-repeat the Verizon Wireless Guy snark, but that would be repetitive.

    I can understand thinking that Edwards or Amanda are pulling the Dems to the left, although neither they nor the other folks you mention are particularly radical left.

    Edwards may not be part and parcel of the radical left, but he is closer than most of the other field, and the jury is still out on whether Obama takes the designation as well. But if you can honestly argue that those who are the most radical left members of the prominent blogosphere as being in and of the mainstream of the Democratic Party, then perhaps the effect is more severe than I had realized. I will continue to be optimistic, however, and hold to the belief that the Democratic Party is not marching lockstep with the far left, or, at least, not yet. Right now, it is still in the courting stage, perhaps a fourth date, rather than a full marriage of purpose and principle.

    If you don’t think that Hillary is right-wing enough, then what Democrat is — Zell Miller, maybe?

    From my perspective, being as close to the political center as you can get without crossing over, Zell Miller is a significant distance to my right and I was personally relieved to see him make the pro forma transition from being a highly conservative Democrat to simply a conservative Republican. And Hillary only has substantial centrist credentials with the base of the party. With the moderates, she is still well to our left.

    However, with this next paragraph from your comment, I come to the conclusion that you are missing the entire point of my post.

    I don’t understand what you think the Democrats should look like. If you think they should be significantly to the right of Clinton, then — with all due respect — I don’t understand how your vision of the Democratic party differs from moderate Republicanism.

    That last piece is something that is directed at me quite often in various return comments around the far-left-o-sphere and, as such, carries a significant degree of insult. Some paraphrases: “You’re nothing more than a Republican!” “We don’t need you or people like you!” “You can’t hold Position X and be a Democrat!” “The party doesn’t need you or people like you!” “Leave and go hug Bush!” “Wolf-in-sheep-clothing alert!” “Conservative troll alert!”

    Let me say this straight. I am a loud and proud Democrat. I was raised a Democrat. I’ve worked for Democratic campaigns. When next August comes, I’ll be in the trenches here in Denver for DNC 2008. I still wear my Gore/Lieberman t-shirt. (Admittedly, it is falling apart after 7 years. But it is still recognizable as being a t-shirt. Barely.) The policies of the Democratic Party is closer to my view of a proper governing philosophy than anything else out there. I may be on the moderate fringe of the party, but I am still in and of the party. As such, those comments cut me where it hurts.

    You ask for my honest opinion of what the Democratic Party should look like? Exactly what it looks like today. It is, and should continue to be the Big Tent party, where all are welcome and a genuine part of the system. Where all views are valid, and all opinions are welcomed. Where disagreement with the norm, the average, the baseline is part and parcel of what has made the party strong. Where the party is the voice for all, not simply the most popular or the loudest.

    And with the rise of the radical left, the moderates of the party have been marginalized. In some cases, they have been pushed out entirely. (coughJoecough) And already there are movements to push still more moderates out. Why? Because they are not what the radical left wants the party to be. And, as a result, it tells us moderate Democrats that we are also not what the radical left wants the party to be.

    What do I want the party to do? You can’t have a Big Tent and move the postholes at the same time. If you move the whole tent to make room for more of the far left fringe, it leaves the far moderate fringe out in the cold. If you want to let more of the far left in, then be my guest. Just don’t use it as a cover to shut me and mine out.

    No one can tell me I’m not a Democrat. No one has the right to tell me that I am not welcome in the party, and any attempt to say “If we don’t know you are one of us, then you must be one of them.” is, in my view, the moral equivalent of the “loyal Bushie” requirement in the hiring process at the Department of Justice.

    Also known as reprehensible, and completely inconsistent with the principles that the Democratic Party has at its core.

    [insert Verison Guy gag here]

    Comment by Off Colfax — June 9, 2007 @ 11:40 pm | Reply


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